Shred It

Shred it

This is the load of scraps my boys and I shredded. It was stressful and crazy but the boys had the time of their lives.

What day is nearly as exciting as Christmas around here? Shredding day.

Yep. You guessed it. Whenever I get out our small, black, at-home shredder, my kids go crazy like it’s Christmas morning.

To them it’s thrilling and exciting.

To me it’s stressful and terrifying.

Each time I “shred” stuff my boys are like moths to the flame. They can’t get away. They love to watch it. They love to help.

My 18-month-old is the worst. I have to use one hand to swat and scoot him away while using the other hand to regulate the shredder. I’m worried about his cute little chubby fingers and he can’t resist checking out the metal grinding gears.

It scares me to death.

My oldest two are pretty good at helping shred stuff. It’s their favorite chore. But my heart still skips a beat whenever I think their tiny fingers are getting a little too close. I go crazy when they try to shred small receipts.

For me shredding papers is an athletic sport. I’m constantly going back and forth chasing the baby while grabbing more papers to hand to the oldest two, then checking for paper jams and dumping the bin. It’s exhausting.

The worst part (for them) is when the machine overheats and we have to take a break. I’m grateful for the break. It’s a chance to gather up more papers and regroup for the next round.

We have had some good times shredding. We usually end up with tiny paper flecks scattered all throughout the house.

But we’ll never forget the first time we used our shredder. We were shredding hundreds of papers last fall that I had sorted out from my old junior high and high school days. We were on a roll when all of a sudden the machine made a horrible grinding, screeching sound.

Something was jammed.

Apparently there was a penny left in the bottom corner of an envelope and we didn’t notice it until it had been partially “eaten” by the shredder. I’d like to blame it on the fact that I was trying to keep an eye on my little ones’ fingers and that’s how it got through, but who knows.

Our brand-new day-after-Thanksgiving-deal shredder was toast. It took half a dozen screwdrivers and a couple of hours to get that stupid metal coin dislodged. It was cross-cut into the metal.

The boys were so sad that our new “toy” was ruined.

But we got it fixed and have had several shredding parties since.

It may be crazy, I may get nervous and we may end up with a floor filled with paper confetti but I guess at least my boys are excited to help with something. I better take it while I can get it. One paper shredded at a time.


What’s in a Name?

Jayden ClemensWhat’s in a name? Well if you ask my five-year-old he’d tell you everything. Especially since he thinks I gave him the wrong one.

Last week I got some papers ready for my boys to go with their school art contest entries. I was hurrying to get to a meeting and asked them to sign the papers while I got my shoes on.

When I looked at the papers while rushing out the door, my kindergartner had written “Jayden Clemens” on his paper. What?

Now I don’t post the names of my living children on my blog, but you can guess that my second son’s birth certificate does not say “Jayden.”

I was so frustrated. It took me a long time to get the documents ready, only to have him mess them up by signing the wrong John Hancock.

I lectured him about why he should write his right name. I talked to him about how I loved his name and gave it to him for a reason.

Then I told him that his teacher wouldn’t know whose paper she was grading if he wrote the wrong name on things. The very next day I found a backpack full of papers with “Jayden Clemens” written on the top.

He had been using the wrong name at school!

Why does he hate his name?

Because deep down he is the Red Power Ranger from the Power Rangers Samurai – aka Jayden.

How did I not know this?

I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m ruining his life by not rushing to the courthouse to legally change his name.

Now most kids my son’s age are just learning to spell their first given name. Let alone their last name, or the name they wished they had. I should be grateful that he’s smart, witty and capable.

But I love his name. It may not be fit for an aspiring power ranger wannabe but to me it’s fitting for him.

Dutch Oven Bug-Cooking Disaster


A slug roasting on our Dutch oven lid.

It’s a miracle any of my children survived to eat the Dutch oven lasagna we cooked last week. Cooking outside in the wild ended up being just that – wild.

By the time we were ready to eat it I was ready to throw in the towel on motherhood. I swear I’m not cut out for most of these things.

I was cleaning up inside while my husband set up the Dutch oven in our cooking pit outside.

When I made it outside to check on our meal I was greeted by my two oldest boys who were so excited to show me something in a bubble bottle they couldn’t hardly contain themselves.

What was it?

A drowned Black Widow Spider. I’m not kidding. I’ve lectured them about touching them. I’ve tried to scare them to death with stories of how they will infect them with poison. But they just don’t seem to get the fact that spiders are dangerous. And Black Widows are number one or two on the danger list.

They assured me that they didn’t “touch” it. They used a set of pliers to pluck it from our backyard window well. Then they drowned it in the water.


What was even more repulsive was when my husband dumped the stupid spider out of the bottle and it started wriggling around on the ground. The “drowned” spider was still alive and kicking.

I’m going to have to bug bomb my entire house to keep from having spider-fang-piercing-my-skin nightmares.

After the spider episode I went to the backyard to look for some cantaloupe from our garden. I was so stoked about a yellow-orange melon that fell off our vine that I forgot to keep an eye on our one-year-old. Where was he headed? You guessed it, straight for the fire-hot Dutch Oven.

The next thing I knew he was screaming and crying. He had burned two of his cute, chubby fingertips on the hot metal oven. I was horrified.

I can’t believe I forgot to keep him safe. Worst. Mother. Ever.

It took forever to calm him down. I kept running his hand under the cold water in our bathroom wishing it were my fingers that were burned not his.

To make me feel even better, my oldest son pointed out at dinner that it could have been much worse. Our baby could have fallen into the Dutch oven pit and burned his face.

Nice. Thank you for the mental image. At that point I couldn’t have felt worse.

We all went back outside and my two oldest got in a fistfight over a toy. My oldest ended up punching my five-year-old in the mouth several times.

I carried swollen mouth boy into the house and made him sit on one couch while the aggressor was forced onto the other couch. They sat in timeout for several minutes. Those were the calmest minutes of the night.

Then they were let off time out and back outside.

Just before our meal was done cooking, I heard my oldest shouting next to the Dutch Oven. Seriously? I thought he was burned too. But no, it was only his slug that was burned. And he wasn’t mad that it was roasting on the Dutch oven. He was mad that he dropped it prematurely.

Turns out that while my husband and I were cooking lasagna on the inside of our Dutch oven, our oldest two boys were cooking up a bug buffet on the outside.


They were grilling insects on the lid of the oven. I nearly threw up.

In one hour my children had handled a wickedly dangerous venomous spider, boxed their brother’s face swollen, burned blisters to the tips of their fingers and roasted a delicious dinner of grasshopper and slug.

They were out of control and I was ready to give up.

The only thing that made me feel better was eating two giant slices of the homemade Dutch oven lasagna.


It was delicious.

Then I went to bed, pulled the covers over my head and prayed that the next day would be more serene.

Luckily it was. Otherwise I may have quit.

Stop Smoking – It’s Bad for the Environment

stop smokingMy 7-year-old son is convinced that if he can get people to stop smoking, he can end global warming.

He and his friend were outside this week passing out hand-made fliers.

They were hackling and picketing in front of my house while I did the dishes after dinner. When I went to see what they were shouting about, they ran up to me excited that they were going to get everyone to stop smoking.

“I just feel so good inside mom,” my son said.

Terrified that they were going to offend some of my cigarette-smoking neighbors by hand delivering fliers to their doors, I tried to steer them away from telling people what to do and push them into a post-the-flier-on-our-front-door direction. I told them I didn’t want them to hurt people’s feelings.

They thought about what I said, but decided to continue with a slightly altered message. They weren’t going to force people to stop smoking they would ask people nicely to stop smoking.

“Here, I’ll write ‘please’” at the top,” my son added.

And that’s just what he did. He added “please,” above the message that read: stop smoking, globel warming, naturl gas, invirement needs help. Ice burg melting. Kids that hav asmu can’t breeth

But in the end the kids weren’t really singling out cigarette smokers like I feared.

I asked them specifically what type of smoke they were talking about and they said every type of smoke – fires, cars, everything.

These two second-graders are pretty passionate when it comes to ending pollution.

They are so passionate that they ended up grabbing a tin can and banging it on the sidewalk while drumming up “donatshons” for the “Invirment.” They weren’t able to collect anything but if they did, they were going to give it to a forest ranger.

Kids are pretty amazing. My son watched a documentary last week with my husband about global warming and the melting of arctic ice caps. I’m sure that’s what inspired this campaign – a campaign that has my full backing.

Heck, I’ll support anything that my child does to try to make the world a better place.

Especially because he and his friend weren’t judging people or telling them what to do, they were on a special mission to save Mother Earth.

And that makes me feel so good inside.

Still Screaming and Pretty Much Addicted

Well, I’m still screaming and pretty much addicted. I must be because no matter what I do, I can’t stop. I CAN’T STOP YELLING AT MY KIDS!!

No matter how much I want to.

I started the Orange Rhino Challenge back in April – a challenge that I was able to succeed at very briefly. (You can read about that here.) I lasted a few weeks without shouting at my boys.

Then summer vacation struck.

That’s when I stopped listing how many days I was “yell-free” on the bottom of my blog. I was ashamed to admit I can’t quit. I’m not “yell-free.”

The more time I spent with my boys the harder it was to keep from screaming. The more time I spent with them the more tired I was which led to more screaming. The more time I spent with them the more messy my house was which led to more screaming.


Tuesday night I lost it yet again. Apparently my boys lost their hearing the night before because no matter how many times I asked them to do something on Tuesday they couldn’t hear me.

More like they wouldn’t hear me.

They wouldn’t stay near me by the pond when I took them fishing. They wouldn’t keep in my sight when I took them to the train museum. And they especially wouldn’t keep away from the hose and waterspout when they were out playing in the back yard.

All things they had been asked nicely to do. More than once.

It’s not like I was asking them to clean their room or empty the dishwasher. I was asking them to listen and obey me while we tried to jam a few more fun activities into our last week of summer.

Right before bedtime I asked them to go to the bathroom and get ready to hop in the tub. I walked in a few minutes later to find them pinching vitamin E tablets with a set of heavy-duty pliers, then dumping them into my plugged bathroom sink.

That was the straw that broke this camel’s back.

I snapped. Again. My voice transformed into demon-mommy tone as I shouted for them to head to their room and hop into bed. That’s when my oldest wouldn’t stop shouting that he wanted to bath.

Over, and over, he kept shouting at me.

Tough. Luck. Buddy.

I spanked his bum, put him in bed and left the room without cracking the bedroom door like I usually do.

My 5-year-old was sobbing. He was scared to death, which made me feel really bad.

After a few minutes my oldest came out with red, wet eyes and apologized. I went in their room and told them that we all needed to start treating one another better. I told them that they needed to show me some respect.

But I doubt that will happen. They think they can walk all over me. They think that if I tell them to stop doing something they don’t have to listen, until I scream.

How can I break this scream, feel like crap, apologize, never-ending cycle?

How do other people get their kids to listen?

Maybe I should read some books written by experts. Maybe I should see a shrink. Maybe my kids should start listening.

I know I need to start enforcing more consequences when they don’t listen. I need to make sure that I follow through with my threats. They need to know that I mean business.

I know I need to get more sleep at night so I’m not always a zombie mom walking around on edge.

I know I need to take a chill pill sometimes and realize that kids are kids and that they aren’t going to listen to EVERYTHING I say.

If I can do these things I might not be able to eliminate yelling completely from my life, but I may be able to minimize it. And in doing that I may be able to minimize the guilt I feel after screaming at one of my sons.

I love them. I really don’t want to shout at them.

I might not be able to completely kick my habit, but I can try not to be quite such a yelloholic.

Never, Ever Leave Your Child In the Car — I Will Turn Your Butt In

Well I did it. I called 911 on a negligent parent.

I didn’t want to rat someone out, and turn someone in (I realize we are all doing the best we can), but I also didn’t want to leave a cute little toddler sitting alone in the back of her car.

On Monday afternoon after a fun-filled trip to Wal-Mart I headed to my van and started loading my boys inside. I noticed that the engine of the car next to me was running.

I peeked inside and thought I saw a baby alone strapped in her car seat in the back of the car. The back windows were tinted and I couldn’t see too clearly so I stopped another lady who was walking into the store and asked her what she thought.

Sure enough, she agreed with me. There was a baby girl about 18-months-old alone inside her car. The car was running and the driver’s side window was a quarter of the way cracked.

I didn’t know what to do so I called 911. They asked me to describe the vehicle, what was going on, where we were and then wait until a policeman arrived.

I was scared to death that a parent was going to show up and I was going to have to confront them alone.

Luckily a policeman arrived before a guardian. He asked me to stay until they found out who was responsible.

My boys, as you can guess, were thrilled. They were watching a police investigation evolved before their eyes. My coolness level skyrocketed as I became a witness to a crime.

A few minutes after the officer arrived, a young father came running through the parking lot to the car. To his defense, he looked like he was in a hurry. But by that time I had sat next to the car for about 10 minutes – way too long for a little girl to be stuck in there alone. And who knows how long she was in there before I showed up. My cell phone registered at 94 degrees. Who knows how hot it was in the car even though the air was on.

Now I will admit that I have THOUGHT about leaving my boys in the car alone dozens of times. It would be a LOT easier to run in for a roll of stamps or pick up a gallon of milk while childless. The very morning of this incident I hopped out of my own van, ran 20 feet and dumped our library books into the drop box while my boys sat watching me from inside the car. I didn’t bother letting them all out while I returned our lot.

They could see me and I could see them the entire time. But now I am wondering if I should have unhooked them and taken them with me.

Because, the thing is, you never know what will happen while you are “hurrying.”

The day I saw this little girl in the back of the car, all of the cash register computers kept going down inside Wal-Mart. Maybe this dad got stuck checking out longer than intended because his card wouldn’t read.

Meanwhile anyone could have reached their hand inside the driver’s window, unlocked the car and taken his baby. Heck, they could have taken the entire car. Who wouldn’t want a nice, new jet-black BMW?

Lucky for this father, no one took his daughter and she didn’t get too hot. Unlucky for him, he was cited for child negligence and given an appointment for a meeting with DCFS. I had to fill out a witness statement and, if it goes that far, could be subpoenaed to appear in court against him. Crazy.

I don’t know why he left his toddler daughter in the back seat of his car, or why he left the engine running and the driver’s side window a quarter of the way down, but I do know that I wasn’t going to let that little girl roast inside.

I may not know what his story is, but I do know that no matter how fast he thought he could make it through the Clinton Super Wal-mart it wouldn’t have been fast enough.

Here’s an article from WebMD on the dangers of leaving kids in cars if you are interested:

Herding Cats at the OBGYN

Word to the wise: don’t ever take your three boys to an OBGYN appointment. Ever.

If you think you are going to have to drag them along, call me. I’d be happy to come and babysit for you.

I took my boys to the doctor with me on Monday.

Never again.

It wasn’t like it was an invasive appointment. It was supposed to be a simple in-and-out-I-may-have-a UTI check-up.

But some things can never be simple when you bring three little boys along.

After banning my two oldest to different couches on opposite walls of the waiting room because they wouldn’t stop fighting, we were finally taken back by one of the nurses.

It took at least six tries to get an accurate reading on my weight. Every time I stepped onto the scale, I had a little hand, foot, knee — you name it — weighing along with me.

Then we went to the exam room. It was pure chaos the moment we stepped inside. My 6-year-old headed straight for the plastic colorful female anatomy sculpture and stuck his hand inside.

When he asked me what it was, I lied and said I didn’t know. Luckily he decided it looked like an ear.

I had to fight my one-year-old off of the mini red biohazard trashcans that he kept trying to open and reach inside of.

My four-year-old thought the swirly doctor’s stool was his personal merry-go-round.

They scrambled through the room wreaking havoc within seconds. Then they noticed the blood pressure cuff and boxes of blue plastic exam gloves hanging on the walls.

It was all I could do to keep them away from pretty much everything.

I was worn out long before I ever made it to the restroom to give a urine sample.

That was another challenge.

I tried to sit my baby on the bathroom floor sandwiched between his two brothers to keep him from crawling all over the place. I positioned the three of them just outside my stall.

Bad idea.

My boys both tried to “help” hold their brother in place by squeezing and smashing him. I bet everyone in the entire clinic heard him screaming.

On the way back to the exam room I told my boys that they could quietly look around the halls of the office where the doctor has posted pictures of babies he has delivered.

That’s when they sprung into a mad-dash-“Where’s Waldo?” search, looking for the picture we sent the doctor of my youngest after he was born.

Again, mass chaos. I found the picture, pointed it out to them and dashed them back inside the exam room.

That’s where the PA asked me to hop onto the exam table. I sat up there and watched my four-year-old nearly strangle my one-year-old in a tight-thigh-death grip while she pushed on my stomach. Meanwhile my oldest kept begging to take home one of the blue plastic exam gloves.

It was exhausting.

The best part? I went through all of this only to find out that I am fine. My test results came back normal.

I’m not one bit sick.

Talk about a let down — all of that hard work for nothing. Especially after I had to pay a co-pay. We all know how much I love paying those.

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